Goodbye for Now

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Today is the third birthday of this site. It started as an outgrowth of our career group, and turned into a place to talk about the personal backstories behind big life choices. We’ve devoted hundreds and hundreds of happy hours to it in that time, writing pieces, recruiting and editing guest authors, and making it into a site we were proud of. And now we have some news to share, which is that we’re going to stop publishing Small Answers (at least for now). (read more…)

ABCs for a Happy Life

ABCs_allAt the age of six, my sister told a stranger, “Don’t have a lugubrious day!” Even at a young age, she knew big words. She and my mom would practice vocabulary and would always stop to look up unfamiliar words when reading. They enjoyed distinguishing shades of meaning between similar words.

This was their thing; I didn’t bother. I read for plot, easily skipping over gaping, unfamiliar words. If I could understand the general meaning of the sentence, I wasn’t bothered by a quick skip over a missing word here or there. When it came time to study for the SATs, this attitude showed. I spent a bit of time with flash cards to make up for this. I learned the meaning of obdurate and lachrymose (words that my mom was shocked that I hadn’t known by then). Yet, even with new this new vocab, I didn’t fully understand the importance of words and their power to shape how we see ourselves and the world. (read more…)

Where are they now?

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In the nearly three years that Small Answers has been running, we’ve had almost 40 guest authors who have shared stories about everything from how they avoid marital disappointment, to finding love in Craiglist’s “Missed Connections,” to dealing with not being a prodigy. We wanted to check in with them to find out how they’re doing: are they still struggling with the things they wrote about? How have their lives or careers changed since then? WILL THEY BE OK (of course they will!)? Read on, if you’re curious… (read more…)

The Ego Whack-A-Mole Game

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My ego gets very confused about what’s important in life. Since ego, according the dictionary, is one’s sense of self-esteem and self-importance, ego can be a force for good in some doses, and can easily get out of control.  My ego desperately wants to look good, to be seen as smart and helpful. It really wants to be important, and is quite tied to how my hair looks. It drives me crazy with all of these concerns, confusing me about what is really important in life. It’s not all bad, though; it’s also my ego that gets me out of bed in the morning and to work on time.

But just when I think I have tamed it or tamped it down, when my ego has agreed not to get attached to something, like the number of likes on a post or a job title, it immediately pops up somewhere else, circling around in a new disguise.  It gets self-congratulatory about how enlightened it is. It gets attached to accomplishment, even when it comes to meditation (ironic, I know).  It gets self-congratulatory about how enlightened it is.

It feels like a never-ending whack-a-mole game: it’s just you playing yourself, for eternity. (read more…)

My 12 Spouses

Kerala mural paintingI work for a small, family-owned business that, for many years, was run by a father and his son. They had a loving and close relationship, but would occasionally get into terrifically loud, heated shouting matches in the office. This made everyone else fidgety and awkward, and whenever it happened, my colleagues and I would half-joke that our parents were fighting. While the rest of us who work at the company are not related, my coworkers really do feel like family members, people I’ve come to love because of our relationship – and disagree with hotly sometimes, just like I do with my husband.  (read more…)